Farirai Machivenyika Senior Reporter
Evan Mawarire and lawyer Fadzayi Mahere have been exposed for lying after posting messages on social media claiming that activist Patson Dzamara had been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of a local private hospital.
The two posted messages on Facebook and Twitter claiming that Dzamara, who is in remand prison for defaulting a court hearing, was admitted to Avenues Clinic’s ICU due to “poor prison conditions”.
In a message posted on Facebook on Saturday, Mawarire claimed: “Visited @Dr Patson in hospital. I can confirm he was rushed to ICU last night due to breathing trouble back in normal ward today #Pray4Patson.”
Ms Mahere also posted her message spreading the falsehood on Dzamara’s condition.
“I’m advised he has been taken seriously unwell pursuant to a five-day unlawful detention at remand prison when there was a mix-up with his court dates causing him to fail to appear in court for the first time ever.
“Despite an attempt to rectify the anomaly through his lawyers, he was arrested and detained. His unconstitutional, disproportionate incarceration aside, he was unjustifiably sent to the dreaded D Section which is reserved often for murderers and hard criminals.
“While there, he contracted some infection which seems to have escalated despite his attempt to seek prompt hospital attention. Reports indicate that he is now in the ICU.”
After reading the posts, journalist Hopewell Chin’ono warned people to be on guard against fake news.
“The media should not fall foul to the scourge of FAKE NEWS by rushing to publish stories before checking whether something is true or not,” he wrote.
“The Patson Dzamara ICU story is not true. It’s staggering that media outlets would publish on the basis of WhatsApp and Facebook messages. Activists and hashtags should also realise that it does them MORE harm in the long term if they spread lies to enhance their brand and elicit public sympathy.
“Back to the media, consumers of your products will doubt the veracity of your stories if you recklessly rush to publish without veracity . . . Patson is not in ICU, he was put in an ordinary ward and will most likely be discharged today.”
Some anonymous online publications fell for the lies and published the story.
Gift Mawire also castigated Mawarire for lying about Dzamara’s condition.
“I am puzzled with events in Harare surrounding Patson Dzamara,” he wrote. “While I am concerned about his well being and wishing him well, people seeking to gain mileage out of this risks derailing the rise of activism in Zimbabwe.
“People will lose trust and faith . . . I can see pastor Evan Mawarire is saying Dzamara was rushed to ICU at the clinic where he is. I have called the institution and was advised that under no circumstance was Patson admitted to ICU. The pastor will be judged harshly for misleading the nation.
“He lied. Fadzayi Mahere, added similar lines that Patson, was reportedly sent to ICU. The lawyer misled people. She lied. I think pastor Evan needs to withdraw his post and tell the truth.”
Witness Mahata said the love for donor funds was behind the peddling of lies.
“NGOs money driving people crazy,” he wrote. “People are not as stupid as they assume them to be. I’m sure they’re better ways to prune money from NGOs.”
Responding to the Mawire’s post, Dzamara seemed to confirm that he had not been admitted in the ICU.
“I just want to praise God,” he wrote. “I am recovering well. Yesterday was a big fight, but I am still here. Anoramba achiita mabasa makuru . . . Jesu anoramba achiita mabasa makuru . . . ICU, pamasowe, pasi pemuti or mumba that doesn’t matter to me and I won’t waste my time on that.
“I just want to praise my God for the gift of life.”
Dzamara could not be reached for comment yesterday.
His lawyer, Mr Obey Shava, said he was yet to visit him, but confirmed he had been hospitalised.